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House of Commons Hansard
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05 February 2019
Volume 654

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2. If he will make it his policy to return the probation service to the public sector. [908988]

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18. If he will make it his policy to return the probation service to the public sector. [909005]

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With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will answer Questions 2 and 19 together.

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Order. I think that the Secretary of State’s intended grouping of Question 2 is with Question 18, which was tabled by the hon. Member for Easington (Grahame Morris), who was looking mildly perturbed, but whom I hope will now be greatly reassured.

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indicated assent.

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It is good to see the hon. Gentleman reassured.

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We have made it clear that the probation system needs to improve, and we have taken decisive action to end current community rehabilitation company contracts and to develop more robust arrangements to protect the public and tackle reoffending. We have seen examples of good and innovative work from CRCs in Cumbria, where probation is being adapted to a rural setting, and in London, where CRCs are working with the Mayor’s office on programmes to rehabilitate offenders involved in knife crime.

I believe that public, private and voluntary organisations all have a role to play. The reforms that we are making are crucial to integrating the system better so that different providers can work more effectively together, and we will set out our proposals later this year.

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I am grateful for that comprehensive answer but, in the light of the prisons Minister’s praise at our last session of Justice questions for the not-for-profit Durham Tees Valley CRC—one of the best, if not the best, at inspection, and, according to Napo, also one of the best to work for—may I ask how the Secretary of State will protect this rare success story, given that his own reprivatisation plans are set to allow security giants such as Sodexo to swallow it up?

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I, too, pay tribute to the work of that not-for-profit CRC and its focus on rehabilitating offenders. The expertise and commitment of not-for-profit organisations are vital in helping offenders to turn their lives around, and the changes on which we are working will ensure that the probation system benefits from having a diverse range of providers, while also doing more to deliver operational stability.

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I thank the Secretary of State for his answer, and for drawing attention to the statistics that we have seen in Durham. However, probation failures cause reoffending and place strains on already overburdened police resources. Will the Secretary of State consider meeting police and crime commissioners such as Ron Hogg, Durham’s police, crime and victims commissioner, who happens to head the only outstanding police force in the country, to discuss the devolution of probation services so that they can be tailor-made to meet the needs of local communities?

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I have already met a number of police and crime commissioners to talk about this very issue, but I should be happy to meet Mr Hogg, as well as other PCCs, to discuss these matters again. We want to ensure that PCCs can play a full and active role in this process, and I am heartened by the determination and willingness of many of them to do all that they can to help to develop it and to ensure that we have a strong probation system.